Hugh Beavin

George Frederick Handel

One of the 18th century's greatest pieces of music was composed at a country house near Market Bosworth.

George Frederick Handel was a frequent visitor to the Gopsall Estate and composed the music to his masterpiece "The Messiah" under a temple in the grounds of the estate.

The words were written by his friend, Charles Jennens, whose grandfather Humphery Jennens owned the estate. Charles was a writer of some note and also wrote the words to Handel's "Saul" in 1737.

As well as his literary aspirations, Charles was well known for his affluent life-style and commuted in first class comfort on the "Flying Shuttle" stagecoach between his grandfather's 1,000 acre estate and a town house in Great Ormond Street, London.

It was during this time that Charles and Handel became close friends and regular visitors to the Gopsall Estate.

"The Messiah" was premiered in March 1743 at Covent Garden in London in the presence of King George II, who reportedly rose to his feet at the Hallelujah chorus.

However, the Gopsall Estate didn't enjoy such approval. When Humphery Jennens died in 1747, Charles did not think the Jacobean manor house matched his life-style. So, using his inheritance, the house was demolished and replaced with the lavish Gopsall Hall at a cost of £100,000.

The residence's opulence was completed by an impressive interior and art collection, including an organ played by Handel now housed in Packington Church near Coventry.

After Charles Jennens' death in 1773, the estate changed hands several times and eventually fell into decay. All that now remains is one of the ruined temples.

Author: Hugh Beavin

Written for: Hinckley-on-line